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OPS-SAT — First-of-its-Kind Space Laboratory — Launched on December 18


The European Space Agency (ESA) reports that the OPS-SAT “flying laboratory” satellite lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, aboard a Soyuz-Fregat rocket on December 18. According to ESA, the small, low-cost, test satellite was specifically designed for operational experimentation in space and includes the most powerful flight computer on board any current ESA spacecraft.

“Consumer electronics have gone through a revolution over the last 30 years, with computers becoming ever faster, smaller, and better,” ESA said. “But when it comes to million- or even billion-euro satellites, their on board hardware and software have not seen this revolution due to the risk of testing new technology in flight. As spacecraft managers dare to fly only tried-and-tested hard and software in the harsh conditions of space, innovation on the operational side of satellites is a very slow-moving process.”

ESA said this is where OPS-SAT steps in, lowering the barriers to spacecraft operation and providing an opportunity to safely test new mission control techniques.

More information is on the OPS-SAT website.